Coastal and Tropical South

May, 2009
Regional Report

Drain or Don't

Planters with no drains can be turned into water gardens, or used as sleeves for pots that do drain if holes cannot be drilled into them. If they should drain, but don't, rework their potting soil to add bark or sand to bagged mixes. Dispose of and replace soggy, smelly potting soils.

Canna Troubles

Three "monsters" can ruin cannalilies appearance and bloom. Slugs will chew huge chunks from the leaves and leaf rollers will twist them and prevent unfurling. Cut down the affected stems to the ground and dust with diatomaceous earth. No bugs? Canna leaves weakened by lack of fertilizer or pale from drought will rip apart, too.

Rethinking Lawns

No time or energy to mow? Start a plan to reduce lawngrass and its maintenance by creating a path that winds by existing beds and defines the new ones. In the largest areas to be de-sodded, mow to scalp the grass, then overseed or mulch to suppress regrowth. Should you need it, elsewhere, scoop up sections of the old grass with a square-blade spade and move it intact to the new location.

Yellowed Azaleas

Yellow leaves on azaleas can mean one of two nutrition problems is present. Lower leaves turn solid yellow and fall off when the plants lack nitrogen. Leaves throughout the plant may turn yellow except for green veins, indicating iron deficiency. You can apply iron to rejuvenate their appearance now, but in the long run, a spring blanket of compost followed by fertilizer made for these acid-loving plants after flowering works best.

Tomato Trouble

Keep an eye out for aphids on the growing tips and flowers of tomatoes as the nights stay warmer this month. You may even see ants climbing the stems first, seeking the critters. Use a strong water spray to blast them off first. Spray the plants for aphids with insecticidal soap, pyrethrin, or its chemical equivalent, permethrin. Use the spray twice, at eight day intervals.

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